6/15/2018 6:49:00 AM
Dental insurance can be a confusing topic and cause patients a great deal of frustration. Dental insurance can make it easier to get the treatment you need; however, few dental insurance plans cover all the procedures you may require. In general terms, dental insurance is the opposite of medical insurance. With medical insurance, you pay for the small things, and the insurance company pays for the big disasters. Dental insurance is arrangedso that they pay for the small procedures and you pay for the big things.
How Dental Plans Work
Most dental insurance plans are a contract between your employer and a dental insurance company such as Delta Dental, Cigna, or MetLife. The type of insurance and the amount of coverage your plan provides is negotiated and largely based on how much your employer wants to spend to provide benefits to their employees.
Another way that dental insurance companies control their costs is through UCR, Usual, Customary, and Reasonable Charges. The UCR fee for a certain procedure is the maximum amount your insurance company judges a procedure is worth. Unfortunately, the insurance company can set the UCR amount at whatever they want, and that does not often match what current actual fees are.
UCR fees are set at one rate, no matter if the dentist is a specialty provider or a general dentist and does not take into consideration the additional fees for more complex treatments. Each insurance company has its ownformula to determine UCR fees, and they are not required to disclose their methods or formulas.
Levels of Coverage
In general, your dental procedures are categorized into types of services, and each one has a different level of coverage. Preventive services such as cleanings and exams are often coveredcompletely. Basic restorative treatments are usually 75-80% covered, and major restorations drop down to about 50% coverage. Cosmetic services are usually not covered by dental insurance because they are not considered to be medically necessary.
Benefits of Dental Insurance
Those who get the most benefit from dental insurance are patients who don’t need a lot of treatment. Most policies do a good job at covering preventive services and maybe a little more. Keeping current on your six-month checkups and cleanings and a strong home-care routine is the best way to keep your treatment needs to a minimum and reap the benefits of your dental insurance policy.
5/21/2018 6:25:00 AM
Along with maintaining proper nutrition from your diet, adding vitamin supplements is also beneficial for your oral health. Over the years, research has shown that our bodies need certain minerals for overall wellness. But little mention has been given to the fact that our teeth can benefit just as much from these supplements as well. Aside from promoting strong bone and tissue health, certain minerals help fight against oral infections and bacteria. Tooth decay, mouth sores, and gum disease can also be minimized when the right vitamins are added to your diet. Stronger Teeth through Essential Minerals Most people want healthy teeth and gums. When it comes knowing what supplements to take to achieve that goal, it can be difficult to sift through all the research. Important minerals that promote proper oral health include:
- Calcium is an essential mineral in dental enamel and the jaw bone. Consuming calcium on a regular basis promotes proper jaw strength and durability and protects teeth overall. A lack of calcium intake can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Vitamin A helps maintain healthy saliva that fights off infections, dry mouth, and oral cancer.
- Iron boosts your immune system strength, which is the body's defense against harmful viruses and diseases. Regarding the smile, iron helps balance oral bacteria levels.
- Zinc:The growth of bacteria which leads to the development of plaque can be minimized with regular consumption of this mineral.
- Potassium: is a mineral that supports healing of tissues. It can be essential for healing after dental trauma or extensive treatment, maintaining proper bone density, and preventing potential blood clots.
Vitamins As Part of a Healthy Diet Your dentist is often the first person to spot a nutritional imbalance in your diet because the telltale signs are reflected in your smile. Unhealthy teeth, tissue sensitivity, and inflammation are particularly reflective of a nutrition deficiency. A lack of zinc and iron, for example, can result in gum disease. Patients can do their part in achieving overall well-being and exceptional oral health by consuming the essential vitamins and minerals needed to reduce the risk of issues that compromise teeth. Most, if not all, of these key nutrients, can be found in our food. Eating fruits, vegetables, and grains can boost your overall health and the health of your smile. At Steven K. Okamoto, DDS, Inc., we are dedicated to looking into every aspect of your dental health. Although important, brushing and flossing alone are sometimes not the enough to preventing oral complications. For more information about how implementing vitamins can promote a healthy smile, call or visit our Torrance office today!
5/16/2018 7:00:00 AM
Saliva has a significant role in supporting the health of soft and hard tissues in the mouth. The defensive functions of saliva include maintaining a neutral oral pH, cleaning and remineralizing the dentition, aiding swallowing and digestion, and protecting oral tissue. Reduced salivary secretion can lead to multiple oral problems, such as dental caries, fungal infections, mucositis, and periodontal diseases. Saliva is also regarded as the mirror of the body, reflecting the overall patient's state of health.
The diagnostic properties of saliva are readily accessible, and the sample collection is non-invasive. A sample can be tested for proteins, electrolytes, hormones, antibodies, as well as other substances. The benefits are even greater when multiple samples over a period of time are obtained and tested.
Chair-side diagnostic tests and biosensor technologies are currently under development. These tests can be used to evaluate oral fluids for disease detection, which will also enable improved access and healthcare outcomes for patients. The detection of specific periodontal pathogens hidden in a patient’s mouth can promote treatment planning and risk assessment using hard data, rather than a subjective assessment.
For example, a saliva test can identify highly toxic bugs linked with aggressive forms of periodontal disease. The salivary test report will specifically state which antibiotics will be effective for each bacterial profile. Patients with periodontal disease can be periodically tested to determine if the process is active due to various bacteria. The salivary sample test results can be used to determine a treatment plan that is individualized for each patient, rather than providing a one-size-fits-all approach.
Large-scale clinical trials and independent authentication studies are needed before noninvasive oral fluid tests become commercially available for the early detection of oral cancer and other systemic conditions. Further refinement of oral fluid screening tests to help identify individuals at increased risk for oral and systemic diseases holds great promise to strengthen our understanding of the relationship between overall health and oral health.
Dental practitioners can better explain and link the gap between oral and systemic health by implementing saliva testing. Additionally, the clinical events and the science of salivary diagnostic testing can have a positive impact on patient outcomes with minimal to no health risks or financial concerns for many patients.
5/9/2018 7:00:00 AM
The use of intraoral cameras in daily dental practice can serve numerous purposes, from patient education to attaching images with insurance claims. Rapid advancement in technology and ease of use have greatly improved over the years. Intraoral cameras are very slim and ergonomically designed handpieces with a single button for capturing images of difficult-to-reach areas in the mouth, and most are corded and can plug into the USB port on a computer.
What They See
Intraoral imaging and education complement each other in the dental practice. A dentist can show as well as tell the patient what they see. Many patients are able to grasp the condition and are often willing to complete the recommended treatment. With the use of intraoral imaging, the patient sees the broken filling or recurrent decay on the computer screen.
What Insurers Can See
Many individuals want only to do a treatment that dental insurance will help pay for. One way to aid in the preauthorization process is to provide an intraoral image to the insurance carrier. Submitting the intraoral image may help the approval process of needed treatments such as crowns and even periodontal therapy.
'Watching' Disease Progression
Dentists and hygienists see numerous patients every day and often find areas to "watch". These include soft-tissue lesions, incipient decay, or other concerns. One great way to monitor these areas is with an intraoral image to refer to at each following dental visit. Having the ability to compare photographs side by side and evaluate and monitor changes creates a standard of care that is valuable in any dental practice.
New-patient visits for preliminary records, radiographs, and periodontal charting can add in intraoral images for a more complete understanding of their dental health. It is very convenient to add pictures of suspicious areas that will need future treatment or monitoring, such as failing restorations, caries, and the general gingival condition.
Going over the intraoral images with the patient before the dentist comes in for an exam prepares the patient that there may be work to do at future visits. The images give the hygienist an opportunity to answer any questions they can before the dentist enters the room. In turn, the hygienist can communicate concerns to the dentist to help mainstream the exam and keep on schedule.
In dentistry, the saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" is so true, especially regarding the use of intraoral cameras. Using images to describe needed treatment helps patients visualize oral conditions as well as the options to improve their smiles. Intraoral imaging is not only used to identify fractured teeth or periodontal conditions, but it can also be used for areas of cosmetic improvement. Intraoral cameras are essential for daily use in clinical dental practice and have the potential to improve the standard of dental care. Contac the dental office of Dr. Steven K. Okamoto
for a complete evaluation today.
5/2/2018 7:00:00 AM
Many people don't understand the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums, and teeth. Smoking has many negative effects on the mouth that can lead to the weakening of gums and advancement of periodontal disease. Smoking significantly weakens your oral health, constricting the blood flow to your mouth and turning it into a breeding ground for bacteria. Smoking may also
- Give you bad breath
- Cause staining of the teeth
- Increase needed recoverytime from oral surgery
- Raise your risk of developing oral cancer
Smoking weakens our immune system and increases risks of developing periodontal (gum) disease significantly. The swelling and irritation connected with gum disease can distress the underlying bone and other supporting structures, eventually causing tooth loss if left untreated.
Gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss in adults, and people who smoke are more likely to have bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. Smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, and can also suppress your immune system, affecting your capacity to recuperate from common illnesses and heal from minor injuries.
Any use of tobacco increases the risk of developing a compromised immune system, making it more difficult to treat other illnesses, like oral cancer. It can also increase your risk of developing cancer of the tongue, inflamed salivary glands and the chance of leukoplakia, or white patches inside the mouth.
Smoking and Your Smile
Tobacco use increases the risk of tooth decay and makes cosmetic and restorative treatments more complicated. It also leads to deep tooth discoloration, so professional teeth whitening treatment is less effective. When you stop smoking, and your oral health improves, you may still require veneers to brighten your smile.
Smoking creates more dental plaque and causes gum disease to get worse more quickly than for non-smokers. To combat the effects of smoking, your dentist may recommend you see a dental hygienist, for extra treatment. Thorough cleaning and keeping a closer eye on the health of your mouth can help prevent the negative side effects of smoking. Your dental hygienist will most likely advise you to visit your dentist every three to six months to keep ahead of any problems.
Call us today
to schedule an appointment to keep your smile looking bright.
4/23/2018 8:55:00 AM
At Steven K. Okamoto, DDS, your health and safety are
extremely important to us. Dental x-rays are a common investigative technique that we considered to be safe. Moreover, the digital dental x-rays we use are even safer. They have very low doses of radiation, producing just a fraction of what you are exposed
to in other imaging procedures.
If you’re worried about whether you need dental x-rays,
it’s good to dig a little deeper into what dental x-rays involve.
X-Rays and Radiation Exposure
There is very little cause for concern when x-rays are performed properly and with adequate safety precautions. A regular exam that includes four bitewing x-rays has about the same amount of radiation you would experience if you traveled on a plane for two hours.
It is important to remember that the effects of radiation are cumulative over your lifetime. For instance, if you travel a lot, then waiting two to three years between dental x-rays is a good idea. Even though the exposure to radiation is low during an x-ray, you still want to keep your overall lifestyle as free from radiation as you can.
Minimizing Your Risk
The most effective way to minimize radiation exposure from dental x-rays is only to have
them done when necessary. Fortunately, it is up to you and your healthcare provider how often you have an x-ray done. There are certain factors to consider when deciding to have an x-ray done.
- Oral health history
- Current symptoms
- Age and dental development stage
- Personal risk factors
A careful evaluation by your dentist can reduce the need for x-rays. If you are concerned about how much exposure you have experienced, then ask your dentist to perform a visual examination before ordering any x-rays. Also
, if you have your x-rays from a previous dentist, make sure to get them transferred to Dr. Okamoto to eliminate the need to repeat the procedure.
Contact Us for a Comprehensive Evaluation
At Okamoto, DDS, we do not take risks with products or treatments. Our dentist only provides services that preserve your overall well-being. Feel free to call us
and discuss the need for dental x-rays to understand better
how we can help improve your oral health.
4/23/2018 8:39:00 AM
Desensitizing medications are used to seal the microscopic pores of unprotected root surfaces if a patient is experiencing more than a mild sensitivity to temperature extremes or sweets. Teeth whitening can also leave patients with sensitivity. Desensitizing medicines are applied by dentists and seal the dentin layer of the tooth that causes sensitivity.
First, your dentist will rule out inflamed tooth pulp, tooth decay, infection, or gum recession as a cause of sensitivity. Then, the desensitizing medication is applied from a small bottle and applied with a fine brush.
Desensitizing medications are also frequently used during restorative dental procedures like fillings or crowns. This application is done before the restoration is placed on the tooth to help prevent tooth sensitivity later. The procedure is usually painless because the patient’s tooth is typically numb. Sometimes, several applications of desensitizing medication are necessary to provide complete relief of symptoms.
Types of Desensitizing Medications
Desensitizing is a fast and easy procedure to have and it can bring permanent relief from some forms of dental pain. The process is completely non-invasive and can be done during restorative dental procedures to prevent the problem from occurring at all. For the most effective results, the use of desensitizing medications needs the affected tooth to be dry and isolated from the surrounding soft tissues.
Professional desensitizing agents must be applied under the supervision of a dentist. There are a variety of medications that can be used in the process, including:
- Gluma® Desensitizer
- Potassium Nitrate
- Fluoride Gel or Varnish
Fluoride also slows the progress of tooth decay by increasing the rate of enamel mineralization, a process where essential minerals that support a hardened, healthy enamel are resupplied to the tooth.
When the demineralization of teeth progresses without regular remineralization, the pores within the tooth enamel become bigger and more sensitive. They then allow more acids and bacteria to enter, which can result in decay. Fluoride helps stop this decay cycle by mineralization of the enamel. After the completion of your examination, Dr. Okamoto may suggest using a desensitizing toothpaste to maintain a healthy environment in your mouth.
Treatment for a Pain-Free Smile
Many people experience tooth sensitivity and there is no need to suffer with the problem. At Steven K. Okamoto DDS, Inc we can help you. Call our Torrance office today if you think desensitizing products may be something you need.
4/23/2018 8:19:00 AM
Dr. Paulo Malo successfully treated the first patient with the All-on-4® treatment in 1998, and since then hundreds of thousands of patients have experienced the look and feel of natural teeth again. The All-on-4 treatment concept provides a permanent titanium bridge for the entire upper and lower set of teeth and can often be done in one visit. The procedure is best suited for patients in dentures or those with significant tooth loss or decay. It is also an option for those whose bone loss in the jaw area prevents them from getting traditional dental implants.
All-on-4 consists of establishing a fully customized bridge based on as few as four titanium implants. The standard method includes four dental implants and an acrylic denture that is built around a titanium frame instead of a full arch of implants. These implants are longer and placed at precise angles to integrate into areas of reduced bone density.
The procedure takes advantage of existing bone, even if it is a small amount. The implant allows patient to avoid having bone grafts and provides a more secure bridge that will last for many years.
Restoring Healthy Smiles
The All-on-4 treatments only needs four precisely placed implants on the top of your mouth, and four on the bottom. Because the implant is made of titanium, they fuse to living bone and function as part of it. Eventually, the dental implant becomes part of the jawbone and serves as a strong foundation for your new teeth.
The strengthening of the bone stops any shrinking and helps to maintain a more youthful facial structure and better oral health. This advanced implant treatment restores normal dental function so you can eat your favorite foods and smile with confidence.
Experienced All-On-4 Care in Torrance
With All-on-4 those who are missing all or most of their natural teeth have the best chance of full mouth restoration. Dr. Steven Okamoto and Dr. Michelle Okamoto have helped transform smiles for years and are passionate about helping others maintain healthy teeth and gums in Torrance. We are pleased to offer our patients the benefits of All-on-4 implants from one of the most reliable names in implant dentistry, Nobel Biocare®. Contact us
or come in for a comprehensive evaluation and we will help you determine if the All-on-4 treatment is right for you.
4/23/2018 8:09:00 AM
When you’re missing one or more teeth, there are many options for making your smile complete again. Whether you choose removable prosthetics or permanent replacement teeth, Dr. Okamoto ensures you are fully informed about which appliances are available to meet your needs.
If you’re visiting our office for restorative treatment, consider the following benefits for the teeth replacement options available to you:
These appliances are not cemented in place and do not require surgical procedures. Removable teeth are usually a cost-effective treatment that is minimally invasive and popular among patients looking for the quickest solution available.
- Partials – Patients with sporadic tooth loss or a single missing tooth can choose partial dentures. Replacement teeth are attached to a plastic or metal framework, which hooks around existing teeth. Partials typically should be removed before meals but they can effectively create the appearance of a full smile.
- Full Dentures – When all teeth in one or both arches are gone, full dentures are the go-to treatment for many patients. Dentures are made of acrylic and tooth-colored materials to re-create a natural-looking smile. These dentures can be worn all day to aid in clear speech and improved biting and chewing.
Note: As these restorations are not permanent, and often rely on surrounding structures for support, patients may experience changes to facial aesthetic caused by bone loss. Removable appliances can also loosen through the day and require adjustment to ensure the best fit.
If you’re looking for the most reliable forms of tooth replacement, prosthetics that are cemented or interact directly with bone are the longest-lasting treatments available. Your choice of bridges or implants will depend on budget and preferences, as well as how many teeth are missing.
- Bridges – Among traditional dental restorations, bridges are some of the most durable teeth replacements. A bridge typically consists of a fake tooth with two dental crowns on either side. The crowns are placed over pre-treated teeth surrounding the gap caused by loss or extraction. Bridges are then bonded in place and can be expected to last for decades.
- Implant-Supported Restorations – When a permanent implant supports your dental restoration, you benefit from the best aesthetics, health, and comfort. Implant posts prevent jaw bone loss and naturally integrate with surrounding tissue, so your new tooth looks and feels real. Implants can last an entire lifetime with the proper care.
If you’re missing an entire arch of teeth, a dental bridge cannot restore your smile, unless it is supported by implant posts. Dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement but do require a longer healing period and initial surgical treatment to add posts.
Questions about Tooth Replacement? Ask our Dental Specialist!
As a prosthodontist, Dr. Steven Okamoto is skilled at helping patients find the teeth replacement option that meets their expectations and needs. With help from our general and cosmetic dentist, Dr. Michelle Okamoto, we ensure your procedure improves your appearance and is as comfortable as possible. Call or visit our office
for details about choices for replacing teeth!
2/16/2018 12:00:00 PM
Dental implants are highly advertised dental treatments, which we also discuss at length on our website. But if you’re unfamiliar with this process, it pays to know the basics. To unpack the essential elements of this procedure, Dr. Okamoto has provided the following blog post.
In short, a dental implant is a complete replacement for a lost tooth – and that includes a substitute for the roots of a teeth. While crowns, bridges, and dentures (the prosthetics for replacing the visible parts of teeth) are important to overall treatment, a dental implant usually refers to the components listed below:
Post – This is a small appliance that looks like a screw and serves as the base of the implant. Dr. Okamoto places the post into the jaw bone so it can integrate with tissue and become a strong foundation for other pieces of the restoration. Implant posts are typically made of titanium, but advancements in implant technology have provided zirconia bases as well.
Abutment – This connecting piece serves as the coupling between the post and the visible prosthetic. The abutment can be made from metal or tooth-colored materials, depending on needs and preferences.
Established companies, such as Nobel or Zimmer, supply the post and abutment, while the implant restorations Dr. Okamoto adds to the abutment are usually created at an outside dental lab.
As much as a dental implant can replicate an entire natural tooth, implant posts can also be supports or anchors for larger restorations. One implant post, abutment, and crown can equal one whole tooth, but four dental implant posts, specialized attachments, and a bridge or denture can equal a complete arch of your smile.
Dental implants are flexible prosthetics that support dental health, function, and appearance. Their power comes from the post, which creates a replacement for missing tooth roots and stimulates bone over time. The definition of an implant can be complicated, but it may be best served by stating that an implant is a replacement tooth root and permanent base for aesthetic tooth replacement.
Ask Dr. Okamoto about Dental Implants!
If you’re looking for more information about implant procedures, we encourage you to read through our website or contact our office to speak to a member of our team. As a tooth replacement specialist, Dr. Okamoto has all the information necessary to help you make confident decisions about your treatment plan.
12/15/2017 12:00:00 PM
Dr. Steven Okamoto and Dr. Michelle Okamoto use modern technologies to enhance and restore patients’ smiles. What many patients don’t know, is the simple solution to a healthier smile may be hiding somewhere unexpected – in their pantry and medicine cabinet.
When our patients seek ways to improve their oral health, one of the simplest adjustments they can make is altering their diet to improve nutrition and ingest more vitamins and minerals.
Teeth and jaw bone are primarily comprised of calcium, which makes this supplement critical to your oral health. Foods high in calcium include:
- Leafy green vegetables
If your diet alone does not provide enough calcium, it’s recommended that you add supplements to keep teeth strong.Vitamin A
More commonly recommended for improving eyesight, Vitamin A also aids in oral health by promoting salivary production and preserving healthy mucous that eliminates harmful bacteria. Foods containing large amounts of vitamin A include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Egg yolks
Vitamin B works to fight off inflammation and soft tissue sores. In the event that you’re suffering from either, increasing your Vitamin B intake can help expedite the healing process. Foods high in vitamin B include:
- Red meat
Vitamin D improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Without an adequate amount of Vitamin D, you run the risk of teeth under-developing or experiencing decay. Vitamin D can be found in the following foods:
- Cod Liver Oil
Potassium benefits the body by inhibiting substances that promote the breakdown of bones, as well as aiding in blood clotting. Patients concerned with obtaining enough potassium should consider eating the following foods:
Ask Okamoto DDS about Diet and Nutrition Tips for Better Health!
Our whole team is committed to the preservation of your oral health and can provide plenty of tips to get your smile back on track, beyond simple brushing and flossing tips. Want to learn more methods of improving the health of your smile? We welcome you to read some of our other articles, or contact our office today to schedule your New Patient Appointment.
10/24/2017 12:00:00 PM
While teeth bleaching products have been widely available for years, some patients are still hesitant to use them and are unsure if frequent whitening or even one-time use of the products will do anything to damage their smiles.
Effects of Whitening Gel on Dental Enamel
Bleaching gel is formulated to affect the surface or enamel of teeth and does not reach the pulp inside the tooth. Peroxide has not been shown to negatively affect teeth in the long term. According to studies, patients who whiten their teeth frequently are, not more likely to experience damage to their teeth than patients who do not.
Patients who are concerned about using whitening gel can choose to whiten their teeth less frequently or choose oral hygiene aids to improve tooth mineralization and strength. These hygiene products, usually rinses or toothpastes, typically contain fluoride. Diet can also affect the strength of teeth. Foods that are high in protein or whole grains can help make teeth more durable over time.
Peroxide whitening gel does not have an impact on soft tissue either. While gums are protected during professional whitening application, any whitening agent that makes contact with soft tissues will not have a negative effect on the appearance of gums or overall oral health.
While thermal sensitivity doesn’t make teeth whitening unsafe or harmful, it can become problematic for cosmetic dentistry patients. Patients who whiten their teeth, either at a dental office or at home, may experience quick moments of discomfort after the application of whitening products. This issue will dissipate quickly after your whitening regimen has finished. However, if tooth sensitivity is of concern for you, there are over the counter products that minimize this effect.
Before a whitening program, patients can choose a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Most retailers carry special strips, which resemble typical whitening strips and are formulated to prevent thermal sensitivity. Depending on whether you choose to whiten your teeth at a dental office or at home, these strips can be applied by our dentists or by patients themselves.
Safe, Effective Teeth Whitening - Ask our Cosmetic Dentists
At Okamoto, DDS, the health and longevity of your smile is highly important to our entire team. We do not take risks with products or treatments and only provide services that will meet your expectations and preserve your health. For stunning whitening results with a safe dental bleaching program, contact our office today.